I saw my old mate Gary last night- he moved to the U.S.A. in 1985 and was back here on holiday with his girlfriend Judy to visit his mum and look around the old country. Shirley and myself met up with them out in the Cotswolds.
Gary and I go back a long way- we went to school together and began playing in bands in the early '80's. He drummed with me in The Others and played bass for the first few Price gigs before he emigrated. The last time I saw him was in New Jersey when I was out there gigging with Neck, almost exactly 5 years ago. In the course of our shameless reminiscing he reminded me of an incident not long after we'd left school when he was offered several weeks work drumming in a covers band out in Tunisia; he turned it down thinking that he wasn't good enough. His thoughts now are that if he'd done it his life could have turned out very differently i.e. he could have been a musician (he now runs an auto-electrics firm) 'like you are Leigh'.
Well, maybe. Who knows who he'd have met as a result of saying yes, and who knows where that would then have taken him. Fate's funny stuff isn't it? At the time I was working in a factory and hating every second of it; if someone had offered me something like that I'd have broke the world land speed record to get there. Or would I? Who knows- sitting here now I'd like to think I'd have accepted it but if I'd actually been in a similar position I might have run a mile whilst screaming on about 'not compromising my artistic integrity'. Or-given what I remember to be my fragile mental state around that time- I might have just ran off screaming.
And is it really nearer to 30 than 20 years since we first played together? Yes, incredibly, it is. God I'm old.
Then again... today in the shop I put Motorhead on the DVD player, a band I first saw in 1978 and that I've got a ticket to see this Autumn. I also put on Eric Clapton's 'Crossroads guitar festival'; amongst the luminaries featured was Hubert Sumlin, Howling Wolf's old guitarist. I met him once when he was playing at the Borderline in London. I was there with my mate Chris Eborn- we literally bumped into him. Being very shy in these sort of situations I probably wouldn't have spoken to him if I'd been on my own but Chris is rather more forward than me (fortunately!) and suddenly there I am talking to a hero (well he is to me anyway). When I said I played he asked me what I was doing at the moment.
I wasn't doing much.
Judging by the look he gave me as I answered I must have looked pretty bad. He looked me straight in the eye:-
'Music is a blessing, it is a gift from God. You must not waste your blessing, you must not waste your gift.'
Next time I'm bleating on at anybody unlucky enough to be in earshot about getting old or some other non-crisis, I must remember those words.